The next community update meeting on the city’s proposed NewCAL project, which calls for replacing the existing Senior Center with a new, expanded facility, will be held on Thursday, March 17 at 6:30pm,
To attend, register here.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
First, I would like to acknowledge the service of retiring members Margaret Albright, Bridget Ray Canada, Matthew Miller and former Chair, Ruth Goldman particularly through the course of this pandemic where they spent an incredibly exhausting amount of time and emotional energy ensuring that our students and staff were well poised to weather our current storm.
Said storm has already been well covered, so I would like to focus my remarks instead, on trust. Specifically, the awesome weight of the trust that the residents of this amazing city have bestowed on all of the elected officials on this stage. You have placed in our hands the responsibility, the duty, the authority to exercise our best judgement and faithfully uphold your thrust in every decision we make, every vote we cast and every policy that we implement. For that trust we owe you a great deal in return. We owe you the promise to cast aside politics, or strife or division and to come together in stewardship of your trust and your funds and to do so with dignity, and candor and grace fully embracing the fact that our different perspectives enrich rather than detract from our role.
As the Chair of the Newton School Committee, I make this promise to my fellow School Committee members, Rajeev, Chris, Anping, Emily, Paul, Kathy and Cove, that I will do my best to guide our committee with openness and respect for your perspectives and lived experiences as we work together to maintain and continuously improve the reputation for academic excellence and the commitment to equity that is the Newton Public Schools. To all of you, I feel confident in saying that we, as a committee, promise to uphold your trust, to defend as necessary our educators from baseless or racist attack, to give our students the resources needed to thrive and to collectively act in the best interest of the students, parents, guardians, faculty and staff of our excellent, excellent schools.
It’s said that in times of hardship, the public trust becomes an even more precious commodity. If you accept that as true, as I do, then it’s understood that we must all work diligently, tirelessly, to preserve that trust and in that way, we will weather this or any storm.
To my fellow Newtonians here in person or joining us on NewTV; President Albright, Vice President Lipof, President Emeritus Baker and members of the City Council; Chair Olszewski, Vice Chair Shields and members of the School Committee, especially our four new members; our former City Councilor now Congressman, Jake Auchincloss; Chief Justice Budd and Judge Heffernan, District Attorney Ryan, Governor’s Councilor Devaney, reverend clergy, musicians, family, friends, and dedicated city and school employees; I am so glad we are together.
We gather for this inauguration in an unusual setting and at an unusual moment in history. We assemble not in the City Council Chamber seated side by side as has been our tradition. Rather we are in the more spacious Newton North auditorium, masked, and physically distanced.
For the last two years have been so difficult and, indeed, anxiety about COVID-19 is still palpable.
We shoulder a collective grief of losing 223 Newtonians and 822,000 souls across the country. We mourn them. And we act to stem the tide of loss by getting vaccinated and boosted. We stem the tide of grief by wearing a mask and giving each other space. We honor those who died by caring for our neighbors and loving our families with increased devotion.
In so many ways, our hearts are full. Our love of this good City and our shared aspirations for Newton are undiminished.
Indeed, I am optimistic that we will meet the challenges of today and embrace the promise of Newton’s future by working together.
A few moments ago, all of us took our oath of office.
I have administered this oath many times … to Fire Chief Gino Lucchetti and Police Chief John Carmichael, to the new women and men who put their lives on the line serving our City in our Police and Fire Departments, as well as to newly elected Councilors and School Committee members.
Each time I do, I am moved.
For we swear to support the Constitution of the United States, and thus…
to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
This is our profound duty, made all the more urgent by the difficulties we face.
We have committed to forge here in Newton for the generations that follow us a greater, better and more beautiful future.
We will meet this moment by investing in our people, our places, and our community.
Newtonians need us to act with urgency as we move toward a future:
Our places and public spaces need investments as we move toward a future:
Our community must continue to evolve as we move toward a future:
I am optimistic about our future in Newton and we are on the right path.
I am grateful to the voters of Newton for giving me this opportunity to continue serving even as the challenges of our times test our resolve.
These challenges are manifold and add to the pressure we all feel. Supply chain issues and inflation are causing prices to go up, hitting our wallets. Housing prices are through the roof. Headlines highlight gun violence and inequities across our society. All of this can make our very foundations feel shaky.
And yet, in the face of such hurt and instability, Newtonians renew my faith in our shared future.
Our community has come together for Festa, Diwali, our first Indigenous Peoples Day and Juneteenth celebrations, pumpkin smashing, window painting, Paddy’s road racing and supporting our school principals.
We tackle the seemingly impossible by coming together. Newton resident Dr. Justin Holtzman teamed up with our Health and Human Services staff to provide thousands of vaccines and boosters. We feed the food insecure with the help of our three food pantries and an amazing Grab ‘n Go program. We step in to support households who lost their incomes, with the help from the leaders of the Newton COVID-19 Cares Fund.
Think of the people powering our Boards and Commissions, Green Newton, Families Organizing for Racial Justice, Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the Chinese American Association of Newton, Newton Coalition of Black Residents, the Newton Conservators, Newton Community Pride, the Newton Cultural Alliance, the Interfaith Clergy, our restaurateurs and so many others.
These Newtonians are weaving a social fabric that makes all our lives better.
Importantly, we find ourselves in a much better place this January 1st than one year ago. We have access to vaccinations and booster shots. Over 95% of Newtonians are vaccinated; that’s remarkable.
As our community of neighbors come through for one another so too do our City and School employees for our community. Across our departments, I see a level of preparedness and professionalism that inspires me. I will forever be grateful to our first responders and nurses, teachers and custodians, librarians and lawyers, human resource and health and human services professionals, and all the others.
I want to thank the families of these employees so often left to themselves while their loved ones worked long hours. This is certainly true of my family, the love of my life, my husband Joe, and our wonderful children – Chris, Mark, and David – and their partners, Roey and Charlotte – and, of course – our grandkids Henry and Jeremiah. My family has been my rock and my refuge.
The past four years brought challenges I never imagined when I first took the oath of office as Mayor – of course, COVID-19 – but I also speak of the incivility that surrounds us.
It has infected our national politics and has found its way to Newton.
With our words and our actions, we must unwind this unwelcome tone.
I know each of us who took the sacred oath today to form a more perfect union can model how to work together, to listen to each other, and to create a shared path forward. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson argued that it is our patriotic duty to do so for the future is in our hands.
We who were democratically elected must work to trust in one another’s love for this community so that we ensure our community of residents’ trust in us.
I close today by borrowing from Lincoln’s second inaugural address:
Let we who are privileged to have been chosen by the citizens of Newton to lead in this time of difficulty resolve at the start of this new year to govern with malice toward none and with charity for all, to bind up our city’s wounds, to care for those who have borne the brunt of the pandemic and injustice, and to do all which may achieve a just and promising future for the next generation of Newtonians.
Thank you and I wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe new year.
I am so pleased and honored to join you today for this inauguration ceremony. Congratulations, Mayor Fuller, on being sworn in for a second term as the first woman mayor of the City of Newton! Congratulations to all the members of the City Council and the School Committee who are being sworn in today as well! And thank you to everyone who has helped to make this such a special event.
Having lived here in Newton with my husband for more than 16 years, and having raised our two sons here, I feel a strong connection with this community. So I deeply appreciate the extraordinary efforts that the Mayor, the City Council, and the School Committee have made – along with everyone in our city government – to deal with the many challenges we have faced especially over the last two years.
My own experience in leading our state court system during the past 13 months has given me some understanding of the many problems you have grappled with and the hard decisions you have had to make. So thank you all for your dedication to serving the people of Newton during this difficult time.
It sometimes seems as if we are presently facing a perfect storm of calamities and conflicts in our nation, between the persistent pandemic, political strife that just seems to get worse, and the repeated tragic reminders of the inequities in our society.
Reading the daily headlines, it’s difficult not to become discouraged. How do we keep moving forward to tackle these seemingly intractable problems in the face of all the bad news?
One path is to focus on building trust in our society.
An article published last year by the consulting firm Deloitte concluded that “America is experiencing a crisis of trust.” Trust in the federal government has been declining for decades, and even trust in state and local governments significantly declined during the pandemic.
Likewise, the percentage of Americans who believe that most people can be trusted has fallen over the last half-century. And a 2019 survey found that 70 percent of respondents believed that Americans’ low trust in each other makes it harder to solve the country’s problems.
So many of our problems are created, or exacerbated, by a lack of trust.
For government entities, Deloitte suggests a focus on demonstrating humanity, transparency, capability, and reliability in their interactions with the public.
That is– when government
It shows genuine care for constituent well-being and generates confidence and trust.
Government also has a role to play in building trust between and among members of the public, by preventing discrimination, fostering dialogue, and supporting a stronger sense of community.
We are fortunate that our city government puts these principles into practice in many ways. We can see transparency and humanity reflected in the Mayor’s weekly email updates. Ongoing improvements in our city infrastructure – repairing roads, renovating schools, and developing affordable housing – demonstrate capability and reliability. The heroic efforts of our School Committee, school administrators, and teachers and staff to continue providing a quality education for our students while maintaining a safe environment during the pandemic similarly reflect a commitment to capability and reliability. And the work of the Human Rights Commission and the Director of Community Engagement and Inclusion, among others, helps to prevent discrimination and strengthen the community.
In our state court system, we similarly are striving to build trust with court users. We seek to express humanity and transparency through fair judicial decisions that explain the reasoning behind the rulings. We are working to increase our capability and reliability by improving our information technology to better serve court users. And we are striving to eliminate discrimination through ongoing training and dialogue to address the insidious effects of implicit bias.
Efforts to build trust, whether here in Newton or in our courts, may seem small in the face of the enormous problems looming over us. But our collective efforts, and the efforts of other local and state institutions like ours, can inspire others to undertake similar work, leading to widespread improvements.
The great Desmond Tutu, who died last week after a lifetime of extraordinary accomplishment, reminded us to “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” In seeking to dismantle apartheid and overcome its legacy of hatred and distrust, he faced a challenge at least as great as any we face today. Yet he did not lose faith in a better future, and neither should we.